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Obama pushes free college during Macomb Community College visit

By Kenneth Porter
Staff Writer

obama-bestPresident Obama continued to solicit support for his tuition-free community college plan during an address at Macomb Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The program, entitled “America’s College Promise Act of 2015,” would provide students that maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher with two years of community college attendance tuition free.

President Obama was joined onstage by Dr. Jill Biden, community college professor and wife of Vice-President Joe Biden, and the pair continued to provide information on the program that the White House claims could support more than 9 million students per year.

President Obama presented the College Promise Act as a natural continuation of the nation’s commitment to education. He further expressed the importance of making sure that Americans are educated so that they can compete in the international workforce, and stated how intrinsic community colleges are in achieving that goal.

“Every American willing to work hard should have a shot at higher education,” said President Obama to an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 1,000. “You don’t have to go to a four-year college to get a good job. But you have to have some sort of specialized skill to advance.”

“Having the best educated workforce in the world is the surest way for America to stay on top. That’s why I believe no kid should be priced out of a college education. If students and businesses live up to their responsibilities, we should be able to make it easier for you to succeed.”

President Obama originally announced the College Promise Act during his State of the Union address in January of this year. The program, as planned, would be funded by a federal grant that is paid for by removing what the President referred to as “corporate tax loopholes that don’t help grow the economy.” However, in order for the Act to become law, it would be need to be included in the Federal Budget, which has to be approved by a Republican-controlled Congress.

However, free tuition was not the only education-related topic addressed by the President during his Macomb speech. He also announced $175 million in educational grants to develop apprenticeship programs for more than 34,000 students nationwide, including 1,700 students in Michigan.

These apprenticeships will provide students with work experience at companies like Cisco and Northrop-Grumman, and the President is hopeful that these training programs will be useful in helping workers earn “new or better paying jobs.”

Schoolcraft students appear to be hopeful that the President’s proposals will help future generations pay for an education, at schools like our own and nationwide.

“I think [America’s College Promise Act] could be a great thing,” said William Mok, Schoolcraft College Engineering Major. “Community College should have been free to begin with. The only bad part is that by the time [the Act] passes, I won’t be in college anymore.”

All-in-all, Obama’s 14th Presidential trip to Michigan appears to have been a success. Following his address at Macomb, he took a tour of the Michigan Technical Education Center where and spent time meeting with students. He also had a brief audience with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans before returning to Washington Wednesday night.